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Facebook Messenger to get end-to-end encryption


Following in the footsteps of WhatsApp, which Facebook owns, its Messenger platform is also getting end-to-end encryption, the tech firm has announced.

Facebook Messenger already has security tools that protect our messages, but are now trying out ‘Secret Conversations’

We put people first in everything we do at Messenger, and today we are beginning to roll out a new option within Messenger to better support conversations about sensitive topics. Your messages and calls on Messenger already benefit from strong security systems — Messenger uses secure communications channels (just like banking and shopping websites) as well as Facebook’s powerful tools to help block spam and malware. We’ve heard from you that there are times when you want additional safeguards — perhaps when discussing private information like an illness or a health issue with trusted friends and family, or sending financial information to an accountant.

To enable you to do this we are starting to test the ability to create one-to-one secret conversations in Messenger that will be end-to-end encrypted and which can only be read on one device of the person you’re communicating with. That means the messages are intended just for you and the other person — not anyone else, including us. Within a secret conversation, you can also choose to set a timer to control the length of time each message you send remains visible within the conversation.

The secret conversation is an optional tool that enables you send a sensitive message to someone. It is  a device-to-device system, meaning you can not view the same message on another device even if you log into your account. The messages will show as bounced when you switch mid-conversation and will not be received by the person being sent to. The sender will have to manually resend from the device they sent the secret message on. It also allows you to set a timer before the message self-destructs, further reducing the risk of the message being stored.

Facebook has assured users that ‘messages in Secret Conversations are encrypted end-to-end between the sender and the recipient using the Signal Protocol and its open-source implementations. Third parties — Facebook included — do not have access to message plaintext and messages can only be decrypted by their intended recipient. Users may inspect the identity keys used for end-to-end encryption and verify the confidentiality and authenticity of their communications. Decrypted messages do not leave the devices that participate in the conversation. Users retain the ability to report abusive content to Facebook.’ Read the technical whitepaper on it here.

Secret Conversations are only available on a test basis to limited users for now but Facebook will share as soon as its available on a larger scale.


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